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4 Sep 2013

Why Indie Developers Should Pay Attention to Nintendo’s Pokemon Cloud Storage Service

Earlier today, Nintendo announced a paid cloud-based storage service for its Pokemon series, which will allow players to upload their favorite creatures to the cloud. This annual paid service (estimate to cost about $5 a year) has a few perks, in that up to 3,000 creatures can be stored online. Moreover, creatures that players have captured from Pokemon Black and White as well as Pokemon Black and White 2 can be transferred to the cloud, then to the upcoming Pokemon X and Y. Essentially, captured creates do not remain solely in one game: rather, players will be able to continue to use their Pokemon in future titles, thus giving players the opportunity to jump into the future Pokemon iterations without having to deal with a grind that comes with every Pokemon title.

Nintendo is definitely onto a brilliant idea, and it’s a concept that indie developers need to pay attention to.

I remember being addicted to an iOS game called Sword and Poker back in 2010. It is one of those games that sounded ridiculous, yet once you started playing you were hooked. Essentially a card battling game with the rules of Poker, you are forced to traverse through various dungeons and floors while earning new weapons and loot you can use to grow stronger. Along the way, the enemies you battle grow stronger and smarter, and if you die? You have to start back from the beginning of the floor and try again (each floor consists of roughly 4-5 dungeons plus a boss, so it is in one’s best interest to never lose). I was addicted, and then Sword and Poker 2 was released, and I had to have it. Yet, once I played it, I was back to square one: weak and sporting only a basic sword. The gameplay felt identical with a few extra gameplay elements, yet I felt as if I should still be the same monster slayin’, poker ace that I was in the original. Add to the fact that the character was identical to the one in the original Sword and Poker, and it didn’t make sense why I was now powerless. As fun as the sequel was, I felt robbed so I stopped playing.

Should I have kept playing? Probably, but my point is this: indie developers need to strongly consider rewarding players for the hours they have spent in their games when releasing sequels. If I have a host of rare items earned from one game and then the game’s sequel is released that continues the story of the original, how am I going to feel that I do not have the original inventory from the original game? Even though it’s what has been the norm for decades, I’m still going to be annoyed. Sure, some players love to have that grind from game to game, yet others do not; so what can indie developers do?

Follow Nintendo’s lead and give us the option of cloud-based storage for our inventory: in a sense, reward us for enjoying the game you worked so hard to create! Especially in games in which collecting is core to the gameplay, most players that invest a great deal of time and effort into a particular series of games would gladly pay an annual fee if it meant they could continue to use their collection in future games. This would greatly reduce the amount of fatigue players will experience when transitioning from one game to its sequel and so on, in that they would be able to take solace in knowing that the hours they have spent in one game will transition to another game, its sequel, its sequel, and so on. Less grinding fatigue will equal more players being on board for upcoming sequels due to each sequel never placing them at square one, but rather allowing them to continue their long, epic journey that you are providing for them. They are going to appreciate you for it, and they will be more willing to purchase sequel after sequel because you are not pulling the rug from under their feet with each new sequel.

And the best part? You will have another stream of revenue in the process by way of annual cloud storage fees. Think about it indie devs, and take a page from Nintendo’s playbook.

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